It only takes one serious truck accident to illustrate the catastrophic threat that trucks can pose to other motorists. Many of us have seen the aftermath of these collisions as we drive by these nightmarish scenes: a crumpled up car, ambulances transporting injured victims, and quite often, an undamaged commercial truck and uninjured trucker.
There is no doubt that when an 80,000-pound truck and a 4,000-pound car collide, the brunt of the damage is typically suffered by the people in the smaller vehicle. Considering how devastating these accidents can be, federal agencies have been working to pass and enforce laws to make truckers and the truck industry safer. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees that safety should be a top priority.
In a previous post, we discussed regulations that limit the number of hours commercial drivers can be behind the wheel without breaks or rest. That post, which can be found here, explained that these limits are intended to prevent drowsy driving and, therefore, prevent accidents caused by fatigued truckers.
These limits are referred to as Hours of Service regulations; and when they are observed and enforced, they can be very effective at keeping people safe.
Unfortunately, limiting a trucker’s hours can cut into a company’s profits and this seems to be the motivation behind the efforts of Senator Susan Collins to do away with current driving limits. Collins reportedly inserted a provision in the spending bill currently in front of Congress which would extend the number of hours a trucker can drive from about 70 to 82 per week.
It is unclear if this provision will be blocked, but if it is not, the lives of motorists in Georgia and nationwide could be put in danger.
Drowsy truckers hurt or kill thousands of motorists every year in accidents that could likely have been avoided. When the operator of such an enormous vehicle is not well rested, his or her reflexes, alertness and decision-making skills could be significantly compromised and lead to a crash.
We will be following up on this story, but in the meantime, we want to remind readers that victims of a truck accident caused by a fatigued driver have the right to hold that party responsible for the considerable damages that are suffered in a crash.
Source: The New York Times, “More Drowsy, Overworked Truck Drivers,” Dorothy J. Samuels, Dec. 9, 2014